From: "Pedro Martori"
Subject: THE FIRST PARTY PURGE PCC vs. Castro - The first party purge
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 09:44:38 -0400
NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 09:53:22 EDT
Organization: Bell Sympatico
The Cuban Communist Party's
THE FIRST PARTY PURGE
Earlier in 1961, during the July 26th anniversary speech, Castro
re-organized the three recognized revolutionary organizations
26th of July Movement, the PSP (Communists) and the students'
Directorio Revolucionario) into a new party called ORI
Revolutionary Organizations). Castro proposed that the ORI be
considered the forerunner of the Partido Unido de la Revolucion
Socialista or PURS. The main task of setting up the ORI was given
Anibal Escalante, possibly the most influential of the old
and a highly regarded subject in Moscow. The creation of the
was Castro's first steps in legitimizing his revolution as a
Communist-oriented one. Castro intelligently recognized that the
Communist party leaders were extremely able in organizing the
political muscles of the country in a manner which would benefit
upcoming official joining of the Communist bloc. Power, however,
to remain in Castro's hands, not transfer to the Party.
Halperin discusses the fact that on the eve of Castro's "I am a
Marxist-Leninist" speech, he was already aware that Escalante was
building a "old Communists" dominated power machine in the ORI.
Furthermore, on several occasions Castro had publicly shown his
dissatisfaction. Halperin adds that
"On November 10, speaking to the... new party's information,
propaganda and censorship department presided by Anibal himself,
declared: 'It is important for us to bear in mind that Marxism is
a catechism,' and then went into a long disquisition on this
'Dogmatism,' he pointed out, was the root of the trouble. It was
responsible for the poor quality of the press. We must, he said,
against stereotype expressions and ideas... he wound up with a
startling indictment of overzealous revolutionary vigilance:
'Arbitrary arrests must stop!"
Castro's warning to Escalante went apparently unheeded, and so
declaration of Marxism-Leninism by Moscow. By March of 1962, the
dictator apparently had had enough of Escalante's power building,
on a March 13 speech, which commemorated the fifth anniversary of
student's attack on the presidential palace, Castro suddenly
I am going to criticize something that took place here tonight...
will provide an example for revolutionary analysis... The master
ceremonies was reading the political testament of Jose Antonio
Echevarria [the slain organizer of the attack]... while he was
we were following the text... and noticed he skipped three lines
said... 'may God grant we succeed in establishing the kingdom of
justice in out fatherland.' When he finished reading, I asked him
about it, and he said: 'They gave me instructions.' "
At this point, an obviously irate Castro exploded:
"Is this possible? Can this cowardly act be called the
conception of history? Can such a manner of thinking be called
Marxism? Can such a fraud be called socialism?...What a myopic,
sectarian, stupid, and crooked conception... No, we can't let
by... What are they trying to do with this revolution? Transform
into a yoke for oxen or a school for puppets?"
Three days later, Revolucion's editorial was titled "The War
Sectarianism". That same day, Castro again started a tirade
"them" in a speech given at a graduation exercise. Two days later
escalated his attack by claiming that the ORI had "lost touch
masses... imposed on the nation a despotism 'almost
from Batista and his henchmen'"
The causes for Castro's alarms were to be found in the events
preceded his speeches. Earlier in March, Escalante had announced
National Directorate of the ORA. Ten of the 25 members were "old"
Communists, including Escalante. Ten days after Castro's tirade
against "them," the press announced that six of the 25 members
been selected to form the ORI Secretariat. Significantly, it only
contained one "old" Communist (Blas Roca) and excluded Escalante.
Furthermore, Roca was ranked last of all the members of the
Secretariat (he was to eventually disappear from the top circles
altogether). Ranking first of the six, as First Secretary, was
Castro. The stage was set for the purge.
On 27 March, Castro minced no words as he fired Anibal Escalante
exiled him from Cuba during a nationally televised speech. He
"sectarianism" and (referring to the "old" Communists) said that
had the "belief that... the only one capable and trustworthy to
farm, or cooperative, or hold any important job in the state
are the members of the old Communist Party." He further reminded
listeners that the function of the Party was "to orient... and
govern." Concerning Escalante and company, he said "this type of
disease can't get very far in our country because we don't go for
meek submission; we are not easily domesticated." Although the
acceptance by present day Cubans of the horrible conditions which
exist on the island apparently has proven Castro wrong, at the
the dictator was associating sectarianism with the ugly features
Moscow-style socialism. Additionally, it was clear the old Party
limited credibility; during his attack on the old Communists,
brought back memories of the notable lack of Party participation
during the revolution when he accused them of "hiding under their
beds" while rebels fought Batista.
Smartly enough, Castro ended the speech in a note of unity, yet
for the Communists to "show modesty in their attitudes towards
revolutionaries." The purge which followed was quietly
although a month later Castro claimed that the problem was worse
he had imagined and there was "not one but five hundred
causing problems." Furthermore, in a brilliant coup, Castro
all the economic difficulties of the government on the Escalante
and went through many troubles to differentiate himself from the
Communists. Nonetheless, except for the complete overhaul of the
Party, many old Communists remained in various high posts; there
would stay until further purges were executed in 1966. Gone were
Escalante and all his appointees. Additionally, removed from the
public eye was the Party's old boss, Blas Roca (he re-emerged in